Engaging Your Audience with Contests

June 7, 2022 Desiree Homer

As an event planner working with New York events and clients, you’re always looking for new ways to engage guests and clients ongoing. You know you can't rely on boring or out-of-date techniques to encourage guests to mingle or attract attendees. One tried, and true way to break the ice, engage guests, and inspire great experiences is with contests. But don't subscribe to the old ways of doing games and contests that inspire groans, eye-rolls, and yawns. Instead, get creative and develop new ways to introduce contests and challenges that people want to participate in today. If you need fresh ideas, here is some inspiration for contests you can tap into at your next event.

Social Contests to Engage Guests

There are some pretty tired contests and games that bridal shower, baby shower, and social event guests have come to expect. And in some respects, wrapping the mother-in-law in a toilet paper wedding gown could still be fun. But you’re looking to bring something new to the contest and game element of your New York social events. Here are some of the latest ideas to help inspire your own creative contests for event engagement.

Wedding Jeopardy: Much like the television game show, devise a game using tidbits and intel about the soon-to-be bride and groom and see which guests know the most about the couple.

Pass the Love Story: Have guests write down their own love stories or “how they met” tales and turn it into a game for others to guess which story belongs to which guest.

Wedding or Baby Movie Charades: Get people out of their seats for a little charades, baby or wedding-themed, of course.

Find the Guest: Collect little-known facts for each member on the guest list. Then, as people arrive for the event, hand them a list of those facts and challenge them to find out who belongs to what details. It’s a great icebreaker to get people mingling.

Corporate Event Contests Employees Will Love

If you’re planning a corporate event based on a product launch or companywide meeting, you can use contests and games to engage employees. You can also look for ideas to inspire team-building with the itinerary of the company event. 

Company Trivia Contests: See just how much employees and guests know about the company brand and history with a fresh version of a good, old-fashioned trivia contest.

HotShot SnapShot: Encourage employees to get out their mobile devices and submit candid shots for a “best of” contest. 

Guess the Number: If you need a good reason to give away a company prize, consider setting up stages throughout the event where employees can guess the number of items in a jar for a chance to win. It will get them up and moving and mingling.

Who Said That?: Create a contest whereby you showcase a series of fun, funny, and work-related quotes from managers or leaders, and employees have to guess who said what.

Social Media Contests Building up to Your Event

New York event planners know one of the keys to planning a successful event is building up interest for guests to attend. Don’t forget to leverage the engaging power of a contest to help spread the word about an event you have coming. Here are some refreshing ideas to use online and via social media as a way to keep the conversation going and inspire more attendees to your upcoming event.

Spot the Difference: Upload two images, maybe of one of your New York events, with a shortlist of key differences edited into one of them. 

Caption This: Create a contest where you share an iconic photo of one of your past events and ask people online to generate a caption. The winning caption gets discounted entry to your event or a stand-alone prize.

Event Planner’s Heardle: Create your own version of the popular online game where you share snippets of music and challenge players to guess the song.

Hashtag Contests: Consider creating a hashtag contest rooted in the name or theme of your upcoming event. Those who share or contribute most to the hashtag thread win!

Exhibitor Contests to Get Visitors to Your Trade Show Booth

If you’re exhibiting at an upcoming trade show, like The Event Planner Expo 2022, you can use fun and engaging contests to entertain those who stop by your booth. Attract visitors to your table and offer giveaways and prizes that will have people buzzing and eager to engage with you and your teams. Don't just sit and wait for guests to wander by. Make your trade show exhibitor's booth the talk of the event with engaging contests and games!

Charging Station Check-Ins: Consider offering your trade show booth as a great place for visitors to stop and charge their devices. While they’re there, you can enter them into a drawing for a prize. Word will get around that free swag is available at your booth, making it the prime spot for a quick phone charge and visit.

Scavenger Hunts, Trade Show Style: Put together a list of things to find at the trade show. As guests collect things, they’ll return to your booth for their prize and probably your business card.

Prize Wheels: Get creative and build a prize wheel for booth visitors to spin when they drop their business cards in your bowl. Give away branded promotional items and have people walking around with your tote for maximum exposure.

Bean Bag Toss Contest: No matter what you call it, bags, cornhole, or bag toss, challenge booth visitors to a few tosses of the bean bag for a prize. On the last day of the trade show, maybe hold a finalist round for an ultimate prize and maximum visibility and exposure. 

Keep your arsenal of event contests and games fresh and use these ideas as inspiration for engaging guests and promoting whatever New York event you have coming up next.

Want to showcase your brand in front of thousands of event planners? Become an exhibitor at The Event Planner Expo 2022.

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